Tibetan Water River Horse XL, Jantzen Beach Carousel

MPF Conservation assessed the Jantzen Beach Carousel in 2018, and subsequently treated three horses and several decorative objects from the carousel.

This page is an overview of the treatment of “Tibetan Water River Horse XL” (hereafter called Tibetan) from the Jantzen Beach Carousel.

We named “Tibetan Water River Horse XL” (we’ve never seen an official name for him) because of his Tibetan looking winged water totem on his side. Technically he looks like a Dapple Grey or a grey Appaloosa, an American breed.

We will cover the following repairs:

Mitchell introducing Tibetan, below; on other pages look for videos recap at the bottom of the page.

Tibetan has a big relief-carved heart on the front of his chest, shown right!

Romance side of Tibetan Water River Horse XL, above; back side below. The romance side is the side that is more detailed, intended to be presented, and in the USA the carousels travel counter-clockwise. Tibetan’s back side is also quite pretty!

Below, images of other areas with issues which were not treated in this test treatment.

Below, Tibetan’s romance rear thigh, outside back front knee/leg,
and tail to rump connection, which were chosen for the test treatment.

While Tibetan had many cracks and fissures in his southern poplar planks (note the little ®Post-its in many images), what most interested us in this treatment was the three areas with previous repairs using copper cladding. MPFC needed to discover if the repairs were viable so that knowledge could be applied to other horses with the same type of repairs.

In the pages which follow, each of the repairs have a similarity in damage though each stands as its own element.

  1. Consistency of initial damage is from atrophying paint, improper maintenance, and water seeping into open substrate
  2. The ongoing improper repairs through the introduction of nails of various sizes, placed in areas which facilitated breakage.
  3. The damaging introduction of chemical stripping onto damaged wood, which caused the wood to shrink, areas of rot to accelerate their decomposition, and the atrophy of surface relief carving definitions.

We cannot definitely conclude why previous restorers used cladding in their repairs. It is possible they were not woodworkers with the technical skills needed, or the repairs were too expensive or time consuming.


Dozens of keylocks (shown right) were made in two sizes for many items in the project. The keylocks were then modified as necessary for a specific area. This was more efficient than making the proper keylock for each break on the various horses. Mortise were routed to bisect major breaks and butterfly keys were glued into position, anchoring both ends of the butterfly into the superstructure.

Dry Rot

MPFC found a huge amount of dry rot. We believe the majority of the dry rot occurred subsequent to the introduction of the metal cladding. The minerals deposited into the substrate by the nails and cladding interacted with excessive water, bacteria and resulting mold already trapped under the cladding, resulting in catastrophic rot. Based on Tibetan, the degradation under a lot of the cladding on other horses shows many are in danger of catastrophic losses, such as losing limbs within a decade of use, which could endanger the sitter as well as the historic horse.

Tibetan’s Baby Water River Totem on his Cantle, below!
He is banged up but still has a lot to say!

Note: Throughout MPFC may switch from flash to non-flash images,
because we are trying to show the best image of the treatment.
Videos to recap the processes are located at the bottom of this page, and on Vimeo.

We will cover:

Click on the image below to see blog posts
about the Jantzen Beach Carousel horses.